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About Me

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My name is Gerrie Wydeven doing-business-as Wydeven Designs. I have been conducting this small GREEN business since 2004. Wydeven Designs, based in the Atlanta, Georgia area, sells CHAIRS, LOVESEATS, CHAISES, SETTEES and other fine, well-constructed refurbished upholstered pieces. I love to travel, cook, take photographs and generally follow style and decor topics as well!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tips for Choosing a Great Upholsterer

Yesterday, I wrote about choosing the right pieces to reupholster - ensuring that the cost and time is worth the effort.  Today, I will write about choosing the right upholsterer - a rapidly dying art and an important one if we are to save all those well-made upholstered pieces that will be thrown into a dumpster if not saved with fresh new fabrics.

I have been using Song's Upholstery (now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Lee) in Norcross, Georgia, for over twenty years - over eight years to support my business - link to wydeven designs website.  During that time, they have upholstered over 1000 pieces and I have observed the workmanship of about 10 different master upholsterers.  Their work is amazing.

Song's Upholstery in Norcross
Before choosing a shop, it is always wise to get references and to actually stop by the shop and see finished work as well as work in process.   The way the shop is maintained and the respect the shop owners and employees have for the pieces is not irrelevant to the work they perform!

Here are some things to check out/inspect if you can!
  • Pattern and directional matching is VERY IMPORTANT!  Once you start looking, any mismatched patterns will just shout at you!

  • Careful attention to piping and other details either makes the pieces look tailored or sloppy - you should carefully check out the piping (best seen on contrasting piping) and the quality of the skirts.  The latter should be crisp and correctly and evenly spaced around the piece.
Check out the piping (and skirts) - should be crisp and even!

  • Saggy or flat cushions should be replaced or enhanced.  My upholsterer almost always adds a nice layer of Dacron around the cushion just to give it extra bounce and a less flat appearance.  This will work equally well with foam and down/down-composition cushions.   All new cushions are sometimes needed and the upholsterer should have good quality foam on hand to do the job.   This will generally add to the price but if necessary, it is a worthwhile expense.
These cushions were enhanced or replaced by my upholsterer.
  • Restoring or refurbishing woodwork is an extra that most upholstery shops can either provide or outsource.  Before I started using Annie Sloan Chalk Paints and refurbishing the woodwork myself, my upholsterer used spray paint to redo the woodwork (at a cost - of course) or had someone else do it.   Like all elements of the job, how well this is done is also important.
Painted Woodwork
  • The ability of the upholsterer to do the more challenging upholstery work may be particularly important if you like tufting - which is a demanding (and expensive) treatment or if you want to modify the upholstery treatment of a piece.  I have, for example, occasionally added a skirt where none existed - this needs to be done well to complement the overall design of the piece.  The ability to work well with more difficult fabrics (such as silk which does not stretch) is also the sign of a true master!
Example of detailed tufting.
Working with silk!
Skirts added to "leggy" chairs to give them a softer look!
Well, here are some ideas that will help you choose the right upholsterer.  I hope they work for you and good luck!  Comments and additional ideas would REALLY be welcome on this blog!

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